What is Montessori?

The Montessori Philosophy is an educational philosophy created by Italian physician Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. When Dr. Montessori was 13 years old, she entered an all-boys trade school to become an engineer. During her time there she decided she instead wanted to become a doctor.  She applied to the University of Rome’s medical program and at first was turned down. Maria continued to further her education and applied again, finally to be admitted. In 1896 she graduated as one of Italy’s first female physicians.  

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When Dr. Montessori began her studies, her interest was in psychiatry. As she continued her studies, she grew an interest in education and took courses on pedagogy and studied different educational theories. Those studies led her to observe the methods of teaching used with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 1990, she was appointed co-director of a new training institute for special education teachers and was able to improve on the methods that she had observed. She used her training as a scientist to observe instructors implementing the teaching methods and further experiment with new methods. Her scientific observation skills allowed her to observe how children develop naturally and create an educational philosophy based on the child’s natural development. She used these observations to develop materials and a classroom environment that fosters independence, the child’s innate desire to learn, and follows the child’s natural development. Her educational philosophy was put into place in 1907 when she opened the first Montessori School, Casa Dei Bambini.

 “Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

- Maria Montessori

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